Evaluation reports can be read by many different audiences, ranging from individuals in government departments, donor and partner staff, development professionals working with similar projects or programmes, students and community groups.
Regardless of who the target audience is, ensure that your report is readable, straight to the point, and uses a writing style that promotes understanding. Cut down on theoretical and methodological descriptions that make it difficult for your readers to find the answers to their questions.
A good evaluation report contains these basic components:
- An executive summary containing a condensed version of the most important aspects of the evaluation (see previous point).
- A summary of the evaluation’s focus, with a discussion of the purpose, objectives and questions used to direct the evaluation.
- A summary of the evaluation plan.
- A discussion of the findings of the evaluation, with complete statistical and case study analysis.
- A discussion of the evaluation’s conclusions and recommendations.
- Any additional information required, such as terminology, details of who was involved in the evaluation, etc. in an appendix.
Example table of contents from a final report
- Executive Summary
- Description of the project
- Evaluation purpose and Methodology – context of evaluation, questions, team, limitations…)
- Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations
- Lessons Learned
- Terms of Reference
- Evaluation design and methodology – more complete overview than in the introduction
- List of persons interviewed
- List of documents review
Advice for using this method
Consider presenting positive findings first and then listing the negative findings. Use terms such as “accomplishments,” “success,” or “on target” for positive findings and then “making progress,” “needs improvement,” or “things to work on” for less-than-positive findings (from Torres et al., 2005).
Oxfam GB Evaluation Guidelines (accessed 2012-05-08): http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/~/media/Files/policy_and_practice/methods_approaches/monitoring_evaluation/ogb_evaluation_guidelines.ashx
Stetson, Valerie. (2008). Communicating and reporting on an evaluation: Guidelines and Tools. Catholic Relief Services and American Red Cross, Baltimore and Washington, USA. Download: http://www.crsprogramquality.org/storage/pubs/me/MEmodule_communicating.pdf
Torres, Rosalie T., Hallie Preskill and Mary E. Piontek. (2005). Evaluation Strategies for Communicating and Reporting: Enhancing Learning in Organizations (Second Edition). University of Mexico.
USAID. (2010). Constructing an evaluation report. Retrieved from https://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/pnadw117.pdf
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'Final reports' is referenced in:
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